In Life Is About Losing Everything, Lynn Crosbie writes through several difficult years in her life—“a period of trauma, excess, then morbid solitude”—freely playing with chronology and fiction and the fantastic.
There are nights spent alone popping Ativan and watching Youtube videos, and days filled only with an outing to the 7-Eleven, but the book as a whole is a crowded room, overflowing with friends and acquaintances and lovers and ex-lovers and neighbours and students and Billy Joel and Michael Jackson and it is this endless stream of people that give the greatest sense of loneliness. And all of this coloured by the mid-life realization of the finite nature of said life and that what is left of it sometimes feels filled with so much shrapnel and debris. Crosbie’s reaction to this, to the emptiness, to the invisibility, is not a quiet one:
“I am a woman throwing a dinner party that is sketchily attended and characterized by small bursts of rage and joy, long periods of nervous silence that I break when I scream, Get out, everyone! Just go!”
Rilke said that “the story of a shattered life can only be told in bits and pieces.” Crosbie writes that putting her life back together means “holding the sharp, broken pieces and fitting them into an imperfect whole of my own design.”
Michael Jackson is here everywhere in these stories: “It goes by so fast, he said, when he turned fifty. There is a point where you can see how little you are leaving behind, and how fast what is left will catch up with you.” The book sent me into the rabbit hole that is Jackson’s large corner of the Internet, as I found myself curious about a link there.
In an essay Crosbie wrote about Jackson for Ryeberg Curated Videos, she speaks of how a friend had consoled her once after a bad date by saying that when someone loves you, they love all of you, and how it was all of Jackson that she had loved, all his bizarre behaviors and moments of real, flawed humanity.
In this, Crosbie’s assemblage of all the little pieces and stories and moments that make up a difficult and painful period of her life, she is also giving us all of herself (“I was trying to let him know I was available, and may as well have shown him short, devastating films of myself trying on expensive clothes in well-lit changing rooms”) and in this still remains big. A presence. A voice that commands as it speaks without flinching of weakness and loneliness and grief and the humiliation of thwarted desires and how difficult it is to pull oneself out of these places.
Life Is About Losing Everything
House of Anansi, 2012